What is college

Victoria Chamberlain is an alumni of the University of Missouri, better known as Mizzou, where she studied communication and business.

Her college career was dedicated to learning all she could about the world of media. She served as a student assistant to the Strategic Communication/Media Relations branch of Mizzou’s athletic department. She was also an active member of the College Music Committee and had a hand in promoting concerts around the University. Victoria also spent a number of years working at the NBC-affiliated local news station, KOMU, where she held positions as newscast producer and digital producer.

Victoria now lives in her hometown of San Diego where she works as a public relations manager for Millennium Age Consulting, a company that provides branding, booking and PR services for emerging musicians. She spends her free time learning about the music industry and sharpening her writing. She is a huge advocate for students finding a school that fits for them, and ensuring they get the most out of their college experience.

The word “college” is synonymous with so many thoughts and feelings; excitement, fun, the best time of your life. The thought of a lecture hall filled with the sounds of words you heard in high school isn’t usually the first one we have – but it’s something most of us will do. Some classes feel like an in-depth review and elaboration of concepts we’ve heard before – and that’s not necessarily bad. It’s okay to read back over things, or discuss the same concept in a new light; you might pick up on something you didn’t before. But to be honest, I found the majority of knowledge I obtained during my university years was not always coming from in front of me, but around me.

Huge lecture halls can be intimidating. Small discussion rooms can be even scarier. You’re asked to cozy up to a handful of other students who are just as new to this college thing as you are, and talk about a number of topics related to the class’s subject – and THOSE topics often relate back to real life concepts. It may sound cliché, but I promise it’s true. Speaking out in class is nerve racking at first; you’re not sure what the other students may think of your answer, especially if the topic is particularly “deep” or “intellectual”. But here’s the thing: maybe the other students haven’t heard your two cents on the subject, and need to; and vice versa. Colleges are extraordinary places because they are, for the most part, incredibly diverse. Students and faculty from all walks of life convene on one campus to partake in a collective sharing of knowledge. THAT’S incredible. But it seems most American students don’t see their education in the light. For most it seems to be a burden or task, and I don’t disagree that it can be. The demands of modern day education can be high, but they are worthwhile. However, they are only worthwhile if you wish to completely immerse yourself in the process.

Obtaining knowledge is so much more than reading and memorizing. It’s about thinking critically. It’s about truly understanding a concept, or notion, or way of life. This requires students to think about a world outside their own. Some of the most intriguing and, frankly, heated discussions I ever experienced in a college classroom were stemmed from different students bringing different points of view to light. Students who are black, white, Asian, Latino – from the states and from abroad – can all focus on a common topic and bring a different plate to the table. And it’s so incredibly interesting. It may change your views on some life values. It may confuse you further about what you want to support or believe. And that’s okay, it’s amazing, actually, and it’s something you should explore while young. We live in a country where people are given a right to say and think whatever they please to form the identity of who they want to become. How can you find out who that person is if you don’t test him or her on some of life’s toughest questions?

And so I urge students of any age, at any size school, to speak up. Don’t be afraid to say what you think, and don’t be afraid of challenging ideas. Listen to your peers. Ask them questions. Challenge them, and let them challenge you. Educators truly provide a safe space for you to explore these things, and it’s so important to take advantage. Reading and textbook slides are great, but they could never equate the value of enthusiastic discussion. I promise if you’re brave enough to start speaking your mind, others will follow suit. And when so many cultural and meaningful ideas can exist in one single space – that is how we change the world. You are the future. Make it one that benefits your neighbor as much as it does yourself.

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